Companies and their employees are facing a Hamlet-esque dilemma right now: to go or not to go — to the office — that is the question. While the quantity of people who are either-or varies by survey or poll, most studies show that a majority of workers want a combination of remote and on-premises.
For a safe return to buildings, businesses have to figure out how to deal with space management, occupant well-being and engagement as well as operational efficiencies in the face of smaller populations. They’ll need technology and building systems integrators to help in all of these areas.
Building IoT advantages
Just as technology is enabling remote work, different kinds of digital tools will be needed to connect building managers with building systems to provide the higher level of control needed during a pandemic.
Integrators will help facility managers and business owners support their return to the office strategies by enabling the right building environment.
Research from Memoori about the IoT in smart buildings puts it this way: “Fundamental changes to user interactions between buildings and the rest of society will need to be supported by new technology solutions that help maintain hygiene, facilitate social distancing, and maintain building user trust and confidence in their places of work.”
What once might have been a challenge to integrators — convincing small- to medium-sized business (SMB) stakeholders to buy in to the IoT and extended services — is now a given.
The industry is turning to digital- and IoT-based design for building management systems, lighting, HVAC, environmental controls, security systems and more.
Integrated implementations save time and money, and in our ever-evolving situation better ensure compliance to new standards and safety measures. Integrators will not only help better prepare buildings for occupants, they’ll also help occupants understand what the preventative actions achieve.
Keeping distant, engaged, safe & efficient
Four key areas will need attention for a safe return to buildings: space management, occupant well-being, occupant engagement and operational efficiency.
As people occupy offices, hotels and restaurants again, monitoring and managing social distancing will be a top priority. Software and sensors will help scrutinize occupancy, create an optimal layout and assess under-used space or equipment for maintenance and HVAC energy reduction opportunities.
Monitoring and reporting tools will bring intelligence, resiliency and predictive analytics to ensure better air quality per CDC and ASHRAE guidelines, enable touchless control points and facilitate sanitization.
The measures being put in place — especially those behind the scenes — must be clearly communicated to occupants so they feel safe and understand how to navigate the new way of
operating. Digital tools will enable easy updates around things like air filter change frequency, cleaning schedules and employee rotations to name a few.
New layouts with empty spaces, less people and varying timetables put different demands on building infrastructures and make efficiency trickier to balance. Integrators will bring value by leveraging power and amenity management tools as well as asset tracking, to show how energy and resources can be used most wisely.
Integrators are conduits to what’s next
Many aspects of the buildings we sat, stayed and dined in just a few months ago are now obsolete. Creating the new building environment required to support the workforce, guests, shoppers — you name it — will now require greater integration.
Digital connectivity will bridge the gap between the reality of yesterday’s buildings and the requirements of tomorrow’s workforce. Integrators will be the conduits to the future.
The technology infrastructure that makes up your building systems must now be a multilayered architecture to stay future-relevant. It should span smart, IoT-connected devices, management and control software as well as apps, analytics, and services.
Leveraging both human and machine intelligence, the resulting analytics will provide the critical data needed to maintain the safety, comfort and performance expectations for tomorrow’s buildings.